Dallas County

Farsi, Hindi, Korean Among New Storytimes Coming to McKinney

Library looking for volunteers to help start a Chinese, Arabic and American Sign Language storytime

At the Roy and Helen Hall Memorial Library in downtown McKinney, Rachel Hughes settles in for an impromptu storytime with her two kids, 2-year-old Andrew and 11-month-old Caleb. She reads to them in English today, but starting this fall her kids can hear stories in French, Hindi, Korean, Malay and Farsi.

"I have seen almost all those nationalities at story time, so I think it's wonderful," said Hughes.

McKinney Public Library is expanding from an existing English/Spanish bilingual storytime to a multilingual one.

"The growth that we've had here, it's coming from all over the world. It's a major impact in a pretty short amount of time,” said Director of Libraries Spencer Smith.

Smith said the library looked at the languages spoken at home by McKinney ISD students, library patrons and library staff, and worked to represent as many as possible.

"We thought: how big can we go?" said Smith. "How many cultures are there in McKinney and Collin County that we serve and then how many of those can we incorporate to represent everyone?" Smith said.

He said it's an opportunity to share cultures in a multicultural city.

"Learn how to say hello and thank you and get that basic understanding of their neighbors," added Smith.

The library experimented with different language storytimes earlier this summer and found the storytimes appealed to a wide group of cultures, including English-only speakers.

"It's not just for people who can speak those languages or who are part of those cultures," said Manager of Programs Gary Landeck. "We've noticed people who are not part of that culture at all want to just come in."

"It's people who want to expose their kids to the world and the world is in McKinney,” explained Smith.

According to Collin County, a language other than English is spoken in almost one in four homes.

The U.S. Census estimates 19.7% of the Collin County population is foreign born, more than the estimated 16% in Tarrant County and nearly as much as the 24% in Dallas County.

Israel Baasha said his family speak Hebrew and Spanish at home. He especially likes for his young son to play with children from other cultures.

"I see his interaction with all the other children of different nationalities and hear all the different languages. He just gets out there and has a good time with that," said Baasha.

"You can see it anywhere in the grocery store," said Hughes. "There's a lot of different languages spoken, so for the library to embrace that - that's wonderful."

Starting in September, the multilingual storytime program will be held at 11:15 a.m. on Wednesdays at the Roy and Helen Hall Memorial Library.

The library is putting the call out for volunteers to help start a Chinese, Arabic and American Sign Language storytime.

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